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William Morris was born in 1834, the son of a bill broker from London. He was a studious and intelligent child, learning to read well before many of his peers. Though he was delicate in his early life, a move to Woodford Hall when he was 6 gave him numerous opportunities to explore the outdoors. During his time there he became an avid bird watcher. He was taught at home by a governess until he was 9, at which point he was sent to school at Walthamstow. In 1847 Morris' father died, leaving the family well-off, but causing them to leave their home in Woodford Hall for smaller accommodations. Thus they moved to Water House, and Morris began schooling at Marlborough School, where he remained for the next three years. He made slow progress at the school, where his main interest was personal study of architecture, and in 1851 he was sent to live as a pupil with a reverend. He remained there for a year as he prepared for university.  

Character Evolution

In 1852 he matriculated to Exeter College, Oxford. There he met Edward Burne-Jones, with whom he would form a close personal and working relationship. He also became a member of a group known as the "Brotherhood" or the "Pembroke set", who studied ecclesiastical history and theology together, as well as art and medieval poetry. Morris himself was heavily influenced by the pre-Raphaelite school of art, and also by the growing movement that rejected machine-created works in favour of hand-crafted works. He and Burne-Jones had both intended to become involved in the church, but as they investigated these new ideas they began to turn towards social reform.  
 Morris himself determined to become an architect, and began a magazine in 1856, the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, that carried articles about social issues, as well as poetry and short stories. He paid for all the elements of publishing the magazine, but was formally the editor for only one issue. The magazine was given up after one year. Also in 1856 he began working in the office of George Edmund Street, where he studied architectural drawing until a friend convinced him he was better suited for art. After 1859 Morris was consumed with the design and construction of a house for himself and his wife to live in. He planned the details of the house down to the smallest element. At the same time he was giving up painting; the last of his paintings are dated from 1862. This house, called the Red House, was completed in Bexleyheath in 1860. The house was decorated almost entirely by works created by Morris, his wife or their friends. In 1861 Morris founded the Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. decorative arts firm along with several friends. The firm created stained glass windows, metal work, carpeting, printed fabrics, murals, embroideries and many other decorations. In 1864 Morris suffered a severe illness and was forced to give up his home at Red House in order to remain with his work. They began turning a profit in 1866 as they produced decorations for churches, which had been their original target, as well as domestic settings. In 1867 they were commissioned to create a number of decorative elements for the "green dining room" at the South Kensington Museum. In 1874 Morris bought out the other shareholders of the company in order to become sole owner of the now-renamed Morris & Co., a very capitalist move that put him at odds with his socialist friends.  
Morris' interest in politics did not really develop until the 1870s, and he remained a Liberal until the beginning of the 1880s. In 1883 he became a member of the Democratic Federation, a predecessor to the Social Democratic Federation, and by March he had given a speech on the matter at Manchester, and in May was elected to the executive body of the party. He and Henry Hyndman, who had founded the party, worked closely together as leaders of the party until a split occurred, when Morris formed a breakaway faction, the Socialist League. The mouthpiece of this new faction, Commonweal, began printing his rallying chants and his prose works. In 1886 a further split within his own organization occurred between the more traditional Marxists and the anarchists, with Morris ultimately siding with the anarchists and distancing the Marxists. By 1887 the anarchists in the League were overwhelming the socialists. In 1888 most prominent socialists left the organization, and by 1889 the league was entirely an anarchist organization. Morris himself lost the position for editor of Commonweal, but had to continue paying for the costs of printing, to the tune of four pounds a week, a great deal of money at the time. In 1890 he too left the League, though he continued to publicly support socialism and to write articles about the ideology. In 1896 he delivered his final speech, which preached support for the unification of socialists and socialist ideologies, and also distanced himself from the anti-Parliamentary sentiments he had earlier espoused.    
William Morris died on October 3rd, 1896 at the age of 62. 

Personal Life  

In 1859 he married Jane Burden, a woman who he had originally met in 1858 when he hired her to pose as Queen Guinevere for his paintings. Together they had two children, Jane Alice and May. Their marriage was reportedly an unhappy one, but they remained together until Morris' death, despite Jane's affair with one of William's friends 

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